JOIN US

Kinsman: Should Canada strengthen its military presence in the Arctic?

By: /
11 July, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Presence, yes, but why “military?” Where’s the threat? Fantasies like Peter MacKay’s Russian bomber runs, or Celluci’s Northwest Passage inbound terrorists? Give us a break.

Canada deserves an Arctic settlement presence, having only 2% of circumpolar population within the Circle of 2 million and 4% of Arctic regional settlement of 4 million. Russia and Norway have Circle cities (Murmansk, Norilsk, Tromso) bigger than Canada’s entire Arctic population, because they settled it. Our population is 50% indigenous, as opposed to 4% for Russia and 15% for Norway. They have connecting road and rail links – because they have Arctic activity.

Canadian Arctic economic activity is developing – example, Yellowknife diamonds – and so is international Arctic cooperation, no thanks to Canada, which has a third of the land mass. The way to validate our claim that the Northwest Passage is internal Canadian water is by negotiation, not a costly nonsensical military deployment.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter